Opening the smokey room.

Just when I think I'm out of the blog business the Miami-Dade DEC pulls me back in. Do they think House of Cards is a documentary? Ha!

Rules? We don’t need no stinking rules. That appears to be the attitude when it comes to the upcoming Miami-Dade DEC elections this coming Tuesday. A short primer for those of you unfamiliar with the somewhat arcane process of electing officers in each county’s DEC (Democratic Executive Committee). Every 4 years, after the Presidential election, the local DEC dissolves and reorganizes itself. Officers are then elected at the first meeting, usually in the first two weeks of December. There are lots of pesky rules that determine how these elections are run. To run for office, you must have been elected as a precinct committee person. Those elections were held on August 30, 2016. If you’re not a precinct committee person, you cannot run for office at this first Organizational Meeting.

In addition to gaining responsibility for running the local party the Chair, Vice Chair, State Committeeman and State Committeewoman are eligible to run for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party. Subsequent to this first meeting any empty precincts are then filled by appointment by the local Chair with approval of the precinct committee people. Once appointed to that person gains all of the privileges of an elected precinct person, including running for any officer vacancies that may arise – remember this for later, it’s important.

This is where the fix comes in. For any good fix to work, you need the right players in the right positions involved and “persuaded” in the right way. First we have Stephen Bittel, a democratic donor and infamous subject of DNC staffers less than laudatory emails (see DNC emails WikiLeaks), who holds no position in the DEC including precinct committee person (has he even ever been to a DEC meeting?). Then you have Juan Cuba the (current/former???) DEC executive director. Our less prominent players are Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, and vice-chair candidates, Dotie Joseph and Ruben Young.

Juan Cuba was running for state committeeman against Bret Berlin. It was going to be a close race and one of them would lose their coveted power. The state committee people, chair, and first vice-chair are the only members of the DEC who can vote for the Chair of the State Party. But the state committee people have more votes based on the number of Democrats in their county, giving them a lot of power to elect chair, and other party matter votes.

Of the many catastrophes of Donald Trump’s election win, one that is becoming more apparent is that rich, white men now think they can become political leaders by using their business acumen. So Stephen Bittel (rich, white businessman) decides he wants to become chair of the Florida state democratic party. And his credentials are… wait for it, “he can raise millions for the party” (he’ll probably fail to tell you that he reneged on his agreement to fully fund the DEC executive director position for a mere few thousand dollars, and Juan Cuba formed a consulting firm to funnel dollars to pay himself). He’ll also tell you that he was on the DNC and the vice-chair of finance.

Of course, none of those are elected positions and were appointments, by whom… DWS. But wait, Bittel is not a precinct committee person and cannot hold elected office in the DEC, so he’s not eligible. That’s where back room deals, arm twisting, generous offers, etc. come in. Bittel, Cuba, and no doubt members of the Florida Alliance (and who knows who else is involved), meet and the deal is made. Bittel gets two dupes to run for Vice Chair, since the rules are the chair and vice chair must be different genders he covers his bases with a male and female. Juan Cuba drops out of the race for state committee man to run for Chair. If he wins, a high probability, he coincidentally prevents the former Chair, Dwight Bullard, from running for Vice Chair (the gender thing).

Now Bullard did not do a good job while he was chair. He did not raise any money and he did not provide much guidance, direction or inspiration to the party. So on one hand, blocking him from running may just be an attempt to prevent a less than stellar candidate from holding an officer position. But, oh yeah, he does want to run for State Party chair, the position Bittel wants.

As the chess pieces fall into place, Berlin is now running unopposed because all these machinations were done right at the deadline (although yes, technically you can be nominated from the floor on Election Day, and if Cuba were to lose his bid for Chair, he can turn around and run for state committee man against Berlin, again!). So, what's the fix?

Bittel makes a deal with Cuba. In return for setting all the right players in place, the female vice chair resigns setting up a new ad hoc election where the gender rules do not apply. Bittel, who will conveniently be appointed to a vacant precinct position, can now run for Vice Chair. Assuming he wins (can you say rigged), he is now eligible to run for Chair of the state party. What did it take to arrange all this, oh nothing big, probably just promises of positions on the DNC, super-delegate status, and did you know Bittel wants to have a CEO and COO lead the state party. Hmmm, and if we need people to fill those well-paid positions, anyone come to mind?

Now for the pièce de résistance. How does Bittel ensure he wins the election for State Party Chair? He attacks on 2 fronts. First, the Florida Alliance allegedly has informed the powers and non-powers that be that if Bittel does not win, no more donations from them. And on the second front, well let’s bring in that final player, DWS. As we learned from the WikiLeaks DNC emails, she is the master of the back room deal and arm twisting to her advantage.

She works it so she gets what she wants, which is usually about what benefits her (again read DNC staffers emails on WikiLeaks).  For DWS, this behind the scenes control off the state party (or national party) is nothing new to her. Just ask Alan Clendenin about what happened in 2012 (or even Bernie Sanders). So Bittel, who has now co-opted Cuba, Dotie and Ruben with his extravagant promises, gets DWS to control the rest of the state’s committeemen and committeewomen, gets his friends in the Florida Alliance to threaten to withhold money and “voila”, our new state chair.

If you’ve been in politics for any period of time, you’re probably thinking, duh, this is how it works. Back room deals have been going on since our Republic was formed. But aren’t you tired of the good ole boys being the ones who do the deals, hold the power, and benefit. What all these players really want is power and benefits. As the famous saying goes, “it’s all about me.” What about the true believers, the grassroots activists, those of us who believe the party can and must do better. Bittel thinks his “I’ll raise millions” is the answer. If he wants to raise millions, he can do it without bending and breaking the democratic party rules, or being chair of anything. Just do it! The grassroots Democrats will be disgusted and walk away from the party if we continue to see these backroom deals happen that are so unnecessary, and only serve to stroke the egos of billionaires. Didn't DWS raise a ton of money at the national level? And look where that got us. Do you really want the democratic party to continue to be the party that loses elections by thin margins, or do you want to see us get back to our core and start electing more Democrats who will support progressive issues?

When I first heard about all of this I thought, OMG, everyone is making a deal with the devil for their own benefit. I now realize it’s worse. Vote your values. Vote your conscience. It's time to stop selling out our party.